Other items on the Oak Ridge City Council agenda tonight include possible acceptance of a report that recommends building a new preschool at Elm Grove Park and a five-year contract extension for Waste Connections of Tennessee, the city’s garbage and recyclables contractor.
As previously reported, tonight’s meeting (Monday, January 11) will also include a report on city manager evaluations, with possible discussion of a one-year contract extension and 2 percent pay raise, and a brief update on Main Street Oak Ridge, the $80 million project to redevelop the former Oak Ridge Mall.
The preschool report was presented to Oak Ridge City Council and Oak Ridge Board of Education in October. It came from the Joint City/Schools Preschool Planning Committee, which determined whether to remodel the 70-year-old Preschool building on New York Avenue, lease and renovate a building, or build a new one.
The Committee recommended a new building, which could be built on city-owned land at Elm Grove Park. The construction cost was estimated at about $6.3 million. Additional costs for infrastructure, architects, and other fees, and an in-depth analysis by design and construction firms could push the total to roughly $7.5 million, the Committee said.
The Committee recommended a 20-classroom, 40,000-square-feet building. The Committee said it conducted in-depth reviews of five sites before selecting Elm Grove Park. Other potential sites that had been considered included Pinewood Park on Bus Terminal Road and the former Ridge Greenhouse near Oak Ridge Turnpike in west Oak Ridge.
The Oak Ridge Board of Education accepted the Committee report in November.
If approved, the no-bid Waste Connections contract would extend the contract to June 30, 2026.
Today’s City Council meeting starts at 7 p.m. Monday, January 11, in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building Courtroom. See the agenda here.
Here is background on the Waste Connections contract by Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson:
In August 2015, the city manager’s office was approached by Waste Connections of Tennessee regarding the existing contract, which is set to expire on June 30, 2021. Recognizing that this matter is some distance away, the contractor has expressed a desire to add five years to the term of the existing contract at the same level of service. Waste Connections has been a good contractor and very few complaints on their services are ever received.
The City of Oak Ridge, by cost comparison, finds that we have one of the lowest costs for household services in the Eastern Tennessee region. Our service level includes backdoor pick up in many areas of the city, which a higher cost service is found in other contracts.
Since late summer, city staff has been discussing this issue internally, while a number of other issues have been addressed by the City Council. At the same time, we are in a transitional period between public works directorships, leaving this matter to the city manager’s office to handle. Internally, we have conducted further comparisons of rates in the surrounding areas and found the Oak Ridge rate to be the lowest.
It is believed that the contract extension allows the city to retain reasonable rates for refuse services through June 30, 2026. However, a bidding process that is anticipated in the year ahead of the contract expiration would be needed to allow transfer to a new service should a competitor obtain the contract.
City staff does anticipate that the level of service required and expected in Oak Ridge at present will yield a higher cost in 2021. The hidden cost of disruption also must be considered. Capitalization of new equipment and staffing will be required of a new service provider also. City staff does believe that the city will see a substantial increase in cost of service in a new competitive bidding situation.
Council must unanimously approve the resolution in order to waive the competitive bid process for the five-year contract extension. The City Council can guess the anticipated costs of this service in 2021 or can have a certainty for our citizens over the next 10 years. As we have seen, prices of gasoline have gone up and down in a short period.
The city manager recommends consideration of this option for an extension given our low rate of cost and high level of service demanded of refuse collection.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
Copyright 2015 Oak Ridge Today. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.